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Submitted by Meredith Arena on Thu, 5/10/2012, 3:00pm
Our existence is very wild. It's very crazy, like the mad elephant. Ponlop Rinpoche
I thought of this quote when I opened Where The Wild Things Are this morning for a read after learning of the death of Maurice Sendak. My family loved this book when I was growing up. As a teacher I came to love it for its non-judgmental acceptance of a child’s expression of his needs.
Max is feeling wild, his feelings “unacceptable.” He is sent to his room after telling his mother "I'll eat you up!" The room becomes a forest, the walls become "the world all around," and his very own boat appears on the ocean. He sails through night and day
and in and out of weeks
and almost over a year
to where the wild things are
where he is allowed to be wild, to be cruel, to be manipulative, and to be loved.
Then he returns.
How many children have we watched have moments of wildness? How have we reacted?
What about each of our own wildness of mind and heart? How do we take it on? Do we fight? Do we indulge? Do we acknowledge needs compassionately or do we repress our wildness?
Much of my path has been spent working with this. I, too, feel wild as Max. Sometimes we get frustrated or sad, we fantasize about turning our situation upside down. Practicing Buddhism, we learn to stop escaping and stop acting out. While we learn, there are many bumps in the road. First, we may feel lonely. You don't get a medal for not acting out or escaping, or at least I never do. We may repress the need, which is a violence that doesn't work. The instruction, as Pema Chodron says, is to "stay." Stay with the need, with the discomfort.
At times I feel angry. “Must I put away my wolf suit today?”
How will I function when my emotions are so wild?
How will I affect others?
The instruction is to be kind to yourself, right at the moment when you want to be cruel.
What does the wolf suit feel like?
What is the beautiful expression of my wolf?
What is your wolf like? Where does it go to meet its needs? Can you learn to meet them in the present moment?
Today I am grateful for the wisdom of Max’s wolf, and the journey through time he takes to return to being loved.
Hang from trees, and howl!
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